In the first three months of the widespread and fierce resistance by Ukrainian working people against Moscow’s invasion, they have succeeded in repelling the ill-prepared and increasingly demoralized Russian forces who sought to take Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, as well as the regions around Sumy and Chernihiv. They did so despite murderous bombardment that reduced parts of these cities and their suburbs to rubble.
Withdrawing in defeat, Moscow has focused its war in the south and east of Ukraine. Russian forces have consolidated their occupation of Kherson and Mariupol and are now battling with so far only modest success to conquer ground in Donetsk and Luhansk in the midst of more bloody destruction.
The price Moscow is paying for President Vladimir Putin’s war of conquest is substantial. Troops and their weaponry have been badly damaged and their moral standing demolished.
Workers strikes and protests continue to take place, and, despite new laws with heavy penalties against all forms of protest, opposition to the war and its effects at home are widespread.
Moscow’s war — the largest fought on European soil since the second imperialist world war in the 1940s — has intensified the growing capitalist world disorder, as each country’s predatory rulers seek new armaments and recalibrate alliances to best defend their own national economic and political interests.
Claims by Washington that it has put together a large, bipartisan and united coalition of nations against Moscow are unraveling, a casualty of the rival capitalist rulers’ conflicting interests.
“The Socialist Workers Party hails the courageous resistance by Ukrainian working people to defend their country’s national sovereignty and independence,” Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, said May 23. “We are for the defeat of Moscow’s invading forces and their complete withdrawal.
“We also oppose the U.S.-led sanctions, which, whoever they target, fall heaviest on Russian working people,” he said. “They erect obstacles to developing the class solidarity needed between workers and farmers of Ukraine, Russia, here in the U.S. and worldwide against this invasion.”
Kissinger tells Ukraine ‘call a halt’
Henry Kissinger, a former U.S. secretary of state, was a featured speaker at the annual gathering of capitalist politicians and glitterati in Davos, Switzerland. He told the crowd it would be disastrous “for the West to get swept up in the mood of moment and forget the proper place of Russia in the European balance of power,” the May 23 Telegraph reported him saying. He lectured the Ukrainian people that “the proper role for the country is to be a neutral buffer state.”
A New York Times editorial May 19 had a similar theme, saying a protracted war is “not in America’s best interest,” and that Ukraine “will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand.” It urges Biden to conduct U.S. policy accordingly.
Kissinger said Russia had been a key guarantor of the balance of power in Europe for the last 400 years. This refers to the reactionary role played by the czarist dictatorship, by the Soviet Union under anti-working-class Stalinist rule, and by Putin today in helping police the capitalist world order.
These recent statements show the predatory self-serving interests behind imperialist claims to support Ukrainian independence. They stand poised to use the flow of arms as leverage to force Kyiv to “compromise.”
It is working people who are at the heart of Ukraine’s successful resistance to Putin’s invasion.
As well as keeping essential supplies flowing for the war effort, “many rail workers volunteered to join the fighting in the territorial defense militia,” Volodymyr Kozelskyiv, chair of the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine, told an ASLEF conference in London by video link May 19. ASLEF is Britain’s trade union for train drivers.
He spoke of resistance being organized in Russian-occupied Melitopol. On May 18 and again on the 23rd partisans there disabled rail tracks and blew up Russian trains carrying armor and troops.
Nearly 2,500 Ukrainian fighters emerged from the destroyed Azovstal steel works in Mariupol by May 20. Many had held out underground for 86 days before yielding on orders from Kyiv. Russian forces took the wounded to hospitals, the rest to a prison interrogation camp in Russian-occupied Donetsk.
Kyiv hopes to secure their exchange in a prisoner swap. But this was undermined by a Ukrainian court decision May 23 to impose a life sentence on a 21-year-old Russian soldier for “war crimes.” Under direct orders, he shot and killed a civilian in northeastern Ukraine in the first days of the war. But it is Putin and his high command who bear responsibility for Moscow’s brutal conduct of the war, not Russian workers in uniform.
Kyiv’s “war crime” prosecutions of prisoners of war aid the Kremlin’s plans to put Azovstal defenders on trial and charge them with “war crimes.” Moscow especially targets members of the Azov National Guard unit, who led the resistance to the Russian takeover of Mariupol. Putin falsely brands them as “neo-Nazis.”
In the occupied parts of Luhansk and Donetsk, spontaneous protests by family members of young men forcibly conscripted by pro-Moscow separatists broke out May 16-17.
The leaking of sober views by Kremlin supporters on Russian state TV continues. Igor Markov, a former Ukrainian parliamentarian who backs the Kremlin, told Moscow’s Channel One that Russia might lose, not win, the war. He said, “I don’t see how we’re going to do it.”
Toilers inside Russia continue to find ways to protest Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. In a number of areas, posters have gone up with pictures of a dog named “Peace.” “PEACE lost,” it reads. “He was kind and fun and didn’t cross our neighbor’s border. He gave comfort and hope. We need our PEACE back.”
In occupied Enerhodar in southern Ukraine, dozens of firefighters went on strike May 20, standing outside their station, demanding their chief, Vitalii Troian, who was seized from his office two days earlier, be released.
Dozens of Russian immigrants protested in Hallandale Beach, Florida, May 22. When Socialist Workers Party members, including Rachele Fruit, the party’s candidate for governor, came, two protesters asked if they could carry her sign, “No war! No sanctions! Defend Ukraine independence!” A statement by the SWP was read to the protesters.